12 Metro Phoenix Chefs on Whether No Tipping Is the Future of the Restaurant Industry

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Restaurants adopting no-tipping policies has become about as trendy as doughnuts, with many prominent restaurants going "tip-less" over the last few months. New York restaurateur Danny Meyer announced he was getting rid of tipping at all his restaurants in October, and New York's prominent Eleven Madison Park announced it was going "tip-less" starting this year. David Chang's new restaurant, Momofuku Nishi, opened just days ago and also doesn't allow tips. Even Joe's Crab Shake is experimenting with the idea. But is this really the future of the business? And would it ever work in Phoenix? Twelve metro Phoenix chefs tell us what they think. 

Do you think no-tip policies will be the future of the restaurant industry?

Brian Archibald, Executive Chef of The Boulders Resort & Spa

I think it's great. I travel a lot outside the U.S., and it just makes sense. Guests should pay for the experience as needed, and food and beverage staff deserve to get paid a consistent, livable salary.

Robert Nixon, Chef of Geordie’s Steak at the Wrigley Mansion

Never. Tipping is the law of the land. It has been going on for years, and I think that it will always be this way. There is a big difference between serving and offering an experience.

Sadhana Raj, Owner of 24 Carrots Natural Café & Urban Juicery

I certainly hope so. As an employer, paying my crew a livable, dependable wage is important. In my opinion, giving them this financial stability increases their commitment to provide great customer service, maintain strong work ethic, and reduce staffing turnover rates. I think it will be a little challenging for guests to initially embrace the concept, but hopefully they will realize that in the end, their bill would be about the same and that they will be directly benefiting the lives of their fellow community members. 

Cullen Campbell, Chef and Co-Owner of Crudo/Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails

I do. I just got back from L.A. and half the restaurants there were doing it. It really makes everything easy for both the guest and the staff. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take some time to get to smaller markets like Phoenix.

Nelly Kohsok, Co-Founder and Owner of Pita Jungle 

No, I don’t think that a no-tipping policy is the future of the restaurant industry. To me, tipping for the server is like clapping for an artist in a concert. It is recognizing and offering appreciation of a job well done.

Chrysa Robertson, Chef and Owner of Rancho Pinot

I don't have a good feeling about this. As a restaurant owner, in this particular market, where it's extremely difficult to find any talented professional servers, it's going to be even worse. What professional serious waiter is going to work for $15 an hour? Because I can't imagine anyone paying much more. Are you trying to even out the pay discrepancy between front and back of the house? I haven't heard/read anywhere just how much these servers will be paid per hour instead of tips. And the restaurants who are adopting this approach are "conveniently" raising their menu prices by 20-plus percent. It's a trade-out. The guest is still going to pay the same, whether the service is good or not. The pros who work for me do it because they enjoy the opportunity to make a lot of money in tips precisely because they are good. I thoroughly enjoy being waited on by a professional who knows their tip is (usually) based on their service. 

Brian Konefal, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Coppa Cafe

I think it will start to move its way down from fine dining and larger markets to the rest of the United States, slowly. I believe this system could help balance the pay between the front and back. Let's face it, experienced cooks who sweat and burn themselves daily should get paid what a college server with little experience does, at least.

Rebecca Tillman, Executive Chef of the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort 

Considering this system has been in place for a very long time, it would be challenging to get rid of it. I believe a fair living wage would be the goal for each establishment, however servers can make great money with tips and have for years. We all have choices on where to work and who to work for. I tip based on a lot of factors, not solely on how much the bill comes to. Most of the time, I tip over the standard 20 percent, but would be okay if I knew that the server could just focus on great service without the pressure of needing to make that extra few dollars just to survive. 

Gio Osso, Chef of Virtu 

I don't think so. I see the positives and negatives to it. However, I think too many smaller mom-and-pop spots will be against it. No one wants to have mediocre service in their restaurants, and with having it built into the wage, the servers don't have to work for it. They'll become order-takers instead of providing an experience.

Pauline Martinez, Owner of Perk Eatery

No. Although the ideology behind it is good, the reality is not. With food costs going through the roof, excessive rent rates and ever-growing public demand for great quality, it would only be feasible in high-ticket and/or very high-volume restaurants. 

Jacob Cutino, Owner of Homeboy's Hot Sauce

Time will tell. It's a big leap in the other direction, and I feel there is going to be a lot of conditioning to follow, guest and ownership alike. I like the balance and feel the model has needed a refresh for awhile, so I'm hopeful.

Brady Cohen, Chef of the Salty Sow

We here in Arizona, and most of the U.S, are a very long way from that, but I do think eventually it will happen. When it's put into place properly it creates a much better dynamic and culture within a restaurant's staff. It's a great idea, and I know it will work well in places like New York City and San Fran. Chefs and restaurateurs I have great respect for have already implemented no-tipping policies, but they have service charges and benefits in place to outweigh the tips.

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